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More medical seats in offing
- Preliminary decision taken by state

Ranchi, Oct. 20: Following chief minister Arjun Munda’s nod, the state government has begun working towards increasing MBBS seats in the three medical colleges of the state.

At present, Jharkhand produces only 190 MBBS graduates every year from the three medical college-cum-hospitals. While Ranchi-based Rajendra Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS) offers 90 seats, Jamshedpur-based Mahatma Gandhi Medical College and Hospital (MGMCH) and Dhanbad-based Patliputra Medical College and Hospital (PMCH) offer only 50 seats each.

“A preliminary decision to increase MBBS seats in the three medical colleges was taken today. RIMS will offer 250 seats, followed by MGMCH and PMCH, which will offer 100 seats each. We will now start working towards setting up infrastructure and recruiting teachers, nurses and other staff. After fulfilling the minimum criteria for increasing the number of seats, the state will approach Medical Council of India (MCI) which is the final authority on the matter,” additional secretary in the state heath department Arun Kumar Sinha told The Telegraph.

Today, chief secretary A K Singh held a crucial meeting to decide the nitty-gritty of executing the plans with principal secretary of health department A.K. Sarkar. Sinha and senior representatives of the three medical colleges were also present during the meeting.

The need to increase the number of MBBS seats in the three medical colleges has been felt since long in the wake of acute scarcity of doctors to man government health establishments at every level — from district headquarters to blocks.

A few decades ago, RIMS used to offer as many as 150 seats, while MGMCH and PMCH, 100 seats each. But over the years, the number of MBBS seats shrunk, thanks to the stringent MCI norms the colleges failed to adhere to.

Former vice president of Indian Medical Association (IMA) Dr Ajay Kumar Singh welcomed the state government’s noble initiative, but exercised caution at the same time. “It should not remain a hypothetical situation. I see good co-ordination between chief minister Arjun Munda and chief secretary A.K. Singh. They can work hard to ensure increase in the number of seats which will benefit people,” he said.

According to rough estimates, the state faces a shortage of 5,000 doctors. Of the over 10,000 doctors needed to serve a population of over three crore, the government health establishments have only 2,000 doctors at their disposal with many in administrative capacity as civil surgeons, directors, superintendents and others.

About 3,000 doctors work in the private sector due to several reasons, including less pay offered by the government and lack of infrastructure in community health centres.

Moreover, absenteeism of doctors is common.

Block-level referral hospitals are often hit due to this malaise.

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